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Luftwaffe lacking a good long range bomber

Discussion in 'Axis Bomber Planes' started by JJWilson, Dec 17, 2017.

  1. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    So from what most of you have said or mentioned, I have a few remarks. I understand the Luftwaffe was not planning on getting into a strategic bombing campaign against the U.K, and as many of you said, it would be a waste of resources beforehand to make bombers for such circumstances when many more fighters could have been made instead. As far as the Battle of Britain goes, I don't see a massive difference between Heinkel's, Ju-88's, Stuka's, and Do 17's getting "slaughtered", compared to say the fw 200. They would both be devastated, but the RAF would still lose significant numbers fighting off whatever was attacking them. I have long wondered if the use of bombers in the battle of Britain was the most effective way to destroy the RAF, I don't think it was. Had the Luftwaffe used only Bf-109's and Bf-110's to strafe RAF airfields, rather than bomb them, I think it would have made a significant difference. The less agile and slower Bf-110's could strafe, while the BF-109's escorted them. An easy RAF solution is move the airfields back, and increase AA (20 and 40mm bofors for low altitude). They would have been much more accurate with strafing, but the fighters would be vulnerable to both RAF fighters and AA. What you guys are saying is that the Germans should never have even tried to find an aircraft for bombing after 1940 in the Western Front? That's the idea I'm getting, which I don't think is right or wrong, I'm just wondering what you all are thinking
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The USAAF found that strafing was the more dangerous way to destroy opposing aircraft late war. That's why they counted strafing kills for determining ace status. If all they are hitting is airfields then the British could cover the airfields with AA and pull the planes back beyond range of the German fighters. A few dummy aircraft would give the impression the fields were still in use and fighters launched from safe airfields would also have time to gain an altitude advantage over the Germans.
     
  3. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Was it more dangerous than sending up a bunch of bombers? The Fighter losses as many of you said could be replaced faster, the bombers.....not so much. We both agree lwd that the easy solution for the RAF is move airfields out of range, and put up more AA, but the initial weeks of the battle could be determined by mass strafing attacks, if enough are destroyed on the ground.
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Correction. only the 8th Air Force counted strafing kills for "ace" status. No other US numbered Air Force, nor other service(USN, USMC) did.
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    In a sense, it was...It forced the RAF to come up and fight. However, IIRC, the Luftwaffe flubbed the execution with the early restriction tying the fighters to the bombers as close escort, rather than having the fighters clear the skies ahead of the bombers much like the US Navy did with it's Hellcats from 1943 on, and the USAAF did from 1944 on.


    Strafing only accomplishes so much...Namely putting holes in aircraft. Most A/C fail to burn as they are not fueled and armed, Probably why they are still sitting on the ground getting strafed. Thus they can be readily repaired - Because you have no bombers taking out the hangars, maintenance shops, and other buildings. One only needs to look at Japan, as they were forced to disperse their defending fighters miles from their airfields so they would not be bombed.
     
  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Operation Bodenplatte...
    "The operation achieved some surprise and tactical success, but was ultimately a failure. A great many Allied aircraft were destroyed on the ground but replaced within a week. Allied aircrew casualties were quite small, since the majority of Allied losses were grounded aircraft. The Germans, however, lost many pilots that they could not readily replace." - Wiki

    And some German Heavies:
    [​IMG]Me 264

    [​IMG]He 177
    [​IMG]He 274
    [​IMG]Ju 488
    [​IMG]
     
  7. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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  8. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Thank you CAC for bringing up Bodenplatte, I was going to refer to this later. However, There is a big difference in circumstance from summer of 1940, to January 1945. The Luftwaffe pilots experience was equal to that, if not more so, than pilots of the RAF. In 1945 this was no longer the case, and a vast majority of the German aircraft were shot down by their own AA due to bad communication with the ground forces acknowledging a large scale operation. Not to mention that with the limited range of both fighters (Bf-109 and 110), they would really only have time to make 1 or 2 passes and then leave, hopefully missing out on any major dogfights.
    Thank you Takao for bringing up these points. The strafing Bf-110's could carry bombs to destroy the facilities and a few aircraft, and while regular strafing might not totally destroy an aircraft, it can destroy the engine, ailerons, flaps, rudders, elevators, rendering an aircraft temporarily un-flyable. This I would imagine, would limit the amount of combat ready or even airworthy RAF fighters, helping to keep defending Hurricanes and Spitfires from going up en masse to fight the attackers. Just an idea.
     
  9. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Several points:-

    #1 Although low level bombing was one of the few effective ways to hit precision targets, this profile was risky and the attack had no way of evaluatign its success. The low level raid on RAF Kenley destroyed the low level specialists from KG76. The airfield attacks by the RAF and USAAF in 1944-45 were costly and might not have been ordered had they realised how little damage was caused. On many occasions the targets were either decoys or unservicable air frames - a poor trade for an expereinced pilot Thousands of pounds or dollars was expended to create a hole that could be filled in at a tenth of the cost.

    #2 In 1940 fighter bombing was in its infancy. The only Luftwaffe unit using fighter bombers at the start of the battle of Britain was Eproberungsgruppe 210 an experimental unit testing tactics to be used by the Me210 when it came into service. Ground attack is a specialist skill. As Bodenplatte demonstrated, pilots trained for fly interceptors cannot be re-rolled in an instant. The RAF fighter squadrons tasked with dive bombing against V weapon sites spent time training before they tried it on the Germans.
     
  10. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Again, fundamentally, the problem facing the Germans in 1930 is a continental problem, and a land problem. Germans had even less of a need for a strategic air force, than their navy. Pouring effort into a strategic air force is an extremely long term play, and should only be done, if you can be assured that the core of your nation remains unthreatened. Possessing strategic bombers is useless when the enemy is running rampant over your territory. Germany could not see herself in a sufficiently secure situation during the 1930's. Further, for many reasons (food, resources, manpower), it is readily apparent that any long war would always favour Germany's opponents. With the primary focus then on achieving a rapid victory whenever engaged, we can then understand that strategic bombing could never resolve the conflict hastily enough to assist the army, the primary arm of the Armed Forces. Together, these mean that there is only one real alternative; build a tactical air force that supports the immediate goals of the Army.
     
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  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Germany's first problem was that it's main fighters were too "short legged". This is not a problem when operating as they did during their early campaigns or later when they were protecting against allied bombers. Airfields within easy range of their operational area was not a major factor. Once they had run Britain off the continent and they needed to be able to project force at a significant distance, they lacked a fighter with the range to do so. At the time of the Battle of Britain, a really good medium bomber might have made a big difference, a heavy, long range bomber would have been overkill. Unfortunately during the Battle of Britain, a decent medium bomber, the Ju 88 was only available in limited numbers and those aircraft available were still suffering teething problems. The HE-111 and Do-17 which were available in larger numbers were also mediocre in the role.
    By the time Germany started losing territory, and a true long range, strategic bomber would have been useful, they didn't have the resources left to put into a strategic bombing campaign.
    If Germany had a really good medium bomber along the lines of a B-25 Mitchell and fighters with sufficient range and loiter time, they might have had a chance to win. As it was, with what they had, they wouldn't win as long as the British had the desire to continue the fight. Operationally, I wouldn't have gone after factories and civilian population targets. I'd have hit airfields and their aircraft maintenance facilities, and road/rail junctions supporting them. Then I'd have gone after the ports and transportation facilities.
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    I agree with your point #1 - What Germany needed was the equivalent of the P51 - a ;long ranged single seat fighter. Drop tanks would have been a start. They also needed a lot more fighters and trained pilots. The Germans never sustained the attrition ratio with the RAF to win air superiority over SE England to launch Op Sealion.

    Not sure where you are going with point #2. The Ju88 was roughly comparable to the B25, which came into service 18 months later.
     
  13. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    You're right I didn't express my thought very clearly. The way the discussion has evolved it's come down to German options around the time of the Battle of Britain (Jul 10, 1940 – Oct 31, 1940). This only makes sense because historically they had to take Britain out of the war between the Fall of France, 25 June 1940 and the launching of Barbarossa on 22 June 1941. Germany didn't have the aircraft numbers, pilots or resources to simultaneously conduct a strategic bombing campaign of Britain and invade and destroy the Soviet Union. Now if Germany was going to defeat Britain during this window they didn't need a B-17 type strategic, long range bomber, because A.) they had airfields in France which reduced the distances that needed to be flown; and B.) Britain was the only target with population centers and industrial targets that Germany could reasonably conduct a strategic bombing campaign, the US and Canada were just too far away. (France was already in German hands, as was eastern Europe and Italy was an ally).
    Now hypothetically if Germany could build a B-17 type (It would be the C and D versions based upon the time frame stated above)

    B-17C B-17D
    four supercharged 1200 hp Wright GR-1820-65 (G-205A) Cyclones four supercharged 1200 hp Wright GR-1820-65 (G-205A) Cyclones
    Maximum speed 323 mph Maximum speed 323 mph
    payload 4,800 lbs. payload 4,800 lbs.
    range 2400 mi. range 2400 mi.
    Armament 4 x .50 cal (2 waist, 1 dorsal, 2 ventral Armament 4 x .50 cal (2 waist, 2 dorsal, 2 ventral
    1 x .30 cal (nose) 1 x .30 cal (nose)

    IMHO, Germany would have been better off with a medium bomber which they could get two of for the resources utilized in a heavy. They needed a bomber like the B-25, capable, sturdy, able to take significant damage and continue flying and a decent defensive armament. The 2400 mi range of the 17 was excessive for the mission profile that needed to be flown:

    B-25A
    Two 1700 hp Wright R-2600-9 Double Cyclones
    Maximum speed 315 mph
    payload 3,000 lbs.
    range 1350 mi.
    Armament 4 x .30 cal (1 nose, 1 waist, 1 ventral, 1 tail)

    The 65th Mitchell was upgraded to the B version due to combat reports from Europe indicating a heavier defensive armament was needed. The NA-40 first flew on 29 Jan 1939, the USAAC went with the A-20 (DB-7) instead. The NA-62, a further development of the NA-40 was submitted to compete for a new USAAC proposal issued on 11 March 1939 and ordered into production. If Germany had been the developing country, and in a wartime footing, unlike the US that was still at peace, it could have been fielded during the time frame in question. As it was the first USAAC B-25 was flying in August 1940.
    The German HE-111 and Do-17 were mediocre as I said. The Ju-88A's that were deployed to the BoB suffered heavier losses than the other two types and as many aircraft losses from accidents and mechanical failures as they did to combat. These problems were eventually worked out and it became a very good, multi-role aircraft. What Germany needed was a more rugged, reliable bomber that had better defensive armament, something similar to the B-25.
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Not sure how much good a long range fighter would have done them. It might have been able to escort bombers further in but would likely have either used more resources to build or not performed as well as the shorter ranged ones and the further into Britain one flies the greater the percentage of pilots that don't make it back. Germany's problem was IMO that they lacked the resources they needed to win the war they started.
     
  15. Zach gibson

    Zach gibson New Member

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    Sorry if i repeat something said before, I'm new to this forum. I think the reason why they never produced or never sent any heavy bombers was the fact that due to the outstanding succuss of the blitzkrieg tactic and the succuss of the stuka they German high command never considered the use of long rang bombers, well not until they would eventually go after the united states.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    By the time they knew for certain how well "blitzkrieg" worked it was already to late. Dive bombers were in essence a big part of the Germany artillery park. Britain wasn't considered a near term opponent until just before the war started. Against France and the USSR the Heer and tactical air were going to be of more worth than strategic air.
     
  17. Zach gibson

    Zach gibson New Member

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    If they focused on heavy bombers just as much as cas then they would have had less materials then they already had. Also they would have had to change their whole strategy that Herman görring was never going to change
     
  18. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I think they needed both. However the materials and both the time to great massive Luftwaffe could not allow heavy bombers. By 1938 Hitler said he wanted war and thus he had to make the bombers By what he had to create at the time.
     
  19. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Prior to the advent of the Atomic bomb Strategic bombing could not in itself win a war despite the claims of 'Bomber' Harris and 'Hap' Arnold. It could be a effective tool in conjunction with other weapons and tactics in defeating a enemy nation. Germany's problem, beyond the shortage of resources to do everything, is that unlike her enemies she could not place her industry beyond the range of effective damage. American industry was well beyond any realistic threat and Britain and Russia could (and in the case of the USSR did) place factories outside of a effective attack range. Britain could move more production out of Great Britain and to Canada, though at considerable cost and effort.

    Germany made more than her fair share of Strategic mistakes but not persusing a large force of heavy bombers was not one of them. However slim, weapons that could win a short violent war was Germany's chance.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2018
  20. harolds

    harolds Member

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    I think one variable in this whole thing that hasn't been really mentioned is the availability of fuel. Did the Germans have enough gas to fuel their fighters, stuka gruppen, medium bombers, air transport units AND a sizable heavy bomber force? This not only means gas for ops but also for training to an adequate standard both the original crews but also the replacement crews that would be needed.
     
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